Japan's Nikkei closes at 15-year high

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Shares in Japan led most Asian stocks higher on Friday, boosted by a new 15-year high for leading shares there.

In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 closed up 1.9% at 19,254.25 points, the first time the index closed above 19,000 since 2000.

A weaker yen, which is good for Japan's exporters as it makes their products cheaper to buy overseas, continued to support investor sentiment.

The US dollar was worth 121.349 yen, up 0.16% for the day.

Shares in Japan's industrial robot maker - Fanuc - were up as much as 14% after reports the company might increase its dividend and buy back stock.


Mainland Chinese shares hit their highest level in two months after Beijing announced a local government debt swap scheme that would boost banks' balance sheets.

Authorities said that more than half of the high interest local debt falling due this year, totalling 1tn yuan ($159.8bn; £107bn), would be covered under a debt swap, into official municipal or provincial debt.

The Shanghai Composite closed up 0.7% to 3,372.91, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 0.1% at 23,823.21.

In Australia, however, the S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.61% at 5,814.50 after ending the day up almost 1% on Thursday.

Australia's TPG Telecom said it was set to buy domestic internet provider, iiNet, for more than 1.4bn Australian dollars ($1bn; £725m).

Analysts said the deal would see two of the largest internet providers in the nation merge, but may also see their rival Optus make a counter-offer.

Any deal would first need approval from Australian regulators.

Meanwhile, South Korea's benchmark Kospi index closed up 0.86%, at 1,987.57.

The country's central bank made a surprise rate cute on Thursday in an attempt to boost economic growth.

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